By SCOTT COTTOS
Much of athletic success is determined by an ability to overcome adversity.
Fostoria High School’s volleyball team did just that on Thursday night and kept its hopes of winning the Northern Buckeye Conference championship very much alive.
The Lady Red did not have standout senior setter Dakota Thomas available for its parents night NBC matchup with visiting Elmwood, but they worked through it to claim a 25-14, 25-23, 25-14 victory and improved their record to 10-2 overall and 5-1 in the NBC.
Thomas, who recently passed the 1,000-assist mark in just her second year at FHS since transferring from Hopewell-Loudon, missed the match due to “an internal disciplinary measure,” Fostoria athletic director Michele Wolf said. The length of the penalty was not specified. Thomas watched from the bench in street clothes.
In Thomas’ stead, senior Mary Harris — who also transferred from H-L with Thomas last year — moved into the setter spot from outside hitter and filled in admirably with 30 assists on 65-for-65 setting. Twenty-six of her assists became kills for senior Tyriana Settles, who now has 1,727 for her career.
“I think the girls did a great job of adjusting on the fly at the last minute to our situation,” said Lady Red coach Krissy Lotycz, whose club gained the No. 18 spot in Division III in the season’s first state coaches association poll.
“They were still able to get the job done. We definitely have a lot of talent on our side, a lot of athleticism, in order to compete. We’ve been with certain rotations in the summer when certain key people couldn’t (play) and it just made underclassmen or other players better at their games.
“I thought the girls, overall, adjusted well with Mary Harris running our offense. I thought it took us a while to get out of the gate, but once we got out, we were able to push ahead.”
A highlight for Elmwood (3-7, 1-5 NBC) came in the middle of the third set when senior libero Jill Hannah recorded her 1,000th career dig, becoming her school’s first player to reach that milestone. She tacked on one more to finish the night at 1,001.
“I literally couldn’t have done it without my coach and my teammates,” Hannah said. “I’m blessed with the best teammates and the best coach. They make it so much fun. I’m just so grateful and blessed to be able to reach this accomplishment. I’m very excited.”
Said Royal coach Penny Harden: “To get 1,000 digs, that’s a lot of playing time, that’s a lot of reps. If the ball is close to her, she’s going to get it. Everybody on the team knows it and she knows it. She’s confident and she’s consistent and she’s not going to be easy to replace next year.”
As it often has this season, Fostoria helped its cause with an outstanding serving effort. The Lady Red notched 11 aces, with Harris and Meredith Grine recording four apiece and Baleigh Robinson adding three.
Fostoria led all the way through the third set, but it had to make comebacks in each of the first two.
The Lady Red trailed 7-6 when Grine went to the service line in the first set. She proceded to serve for all of her four aces and got two kills apiece from Settles and Baleigh Robinson as Fostoria charged to a 19-8 advantage.
Freshman Brooklyn Thrash deposited a kill to give Elmwood a 23-22 edge in the second set. But after a hitting error, Harris served for a pair of aces to send the Lady Red into the third set up 2-0.
Settles added six digs and two blocks on the night. Robinson had six kills and freshman Jasmine Groves added three for Fostoria, and Grine, Robinson and Dashani Taylor matched Settles with six digs.
Lizzy Hall registered eight kills and 11 digs for the Royals, who also got 28 assists and eight digs from Madi Schroeder.
“Overall, we are improving,” Harden said. “We’re going to get better from playing this team. There are still a lot of things to work on, but the girls have nothing to be ashamed of, no reason to hang their heads.
“(Fostoria) is a good team. They were strong, and I think the next time we’ll be much more prepared for them.”
Elmwood (3-7, 1-5 nBC)
KILLS: Lizzy Hall 8, Brooklyn Thrash 5, Anna Veryser 4. ASSISTS: Madi Schroeder 28. DIGS: Jill Hannah 20, Hall 11, Schroeder 8.
FOSTORIA (9-2, 4-1 NBC)
SERVING: Meredith Grine 23-23, Jasmine Groves 12-13. Mary Harris 11-12. ACES: Harris & Grine 4, Baleigh Robinson 3. KILLS: Tyriana Settles 26, Robinson 6, Groves 3. SPIKING: Settles 45-51, Robinson 15-17. ASSISTS: Harris 30, Robinson 2. SETTING: Harris 65-65. DIGS: Settles, Robinson, Grine & Dashani Taylor 6. BLOCKS: Settles 2, Harris 1.
JUNIOR VARSITY: Elmwood, 25-16, 25-23.